Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mexican Rice Casserole ... Instant Pot version!

Having recently moved out of the States, I had to purchase several new appliances to meet different electricity such 'n such.  So instead of choosing a regular crock pot, I opted for the increasingly popular Instant Pot.  I've toyed with it a few times and not had anything turn out "off-ish" nor has it been too hard to learn.  That's a good thing!  One thing is for sure.  I have NEVER had such tasty and easy brown rice in my life!*  Which led me to try one of our family favorites, Spanish Rice Casserole.  Which we now have to call Mexican Rice Casserole thanks to mine and Hubz's trip to Spain last year where we learned real Spanish rice involves sea food and junk...I mean...stuff.  Mexican rice is the kind with the tomatoes and chili powder and such.  Or Rice 'a Roni style, if boxed is your thing.  But why?  It's so easy and much better for you to do homemade!

Four out of five people in my family are not too keen on brown rice.  I love the stuff!  It's so much better for you and has such a nice body and bite compared to plain ol' long grain white rice.  Well, guess what.  Making our Mexican Rice Casserole with brown rice in the Instant Pot went off smashingly!  EVERYONE loved it...even though it was brown rice.  Hubz didn't even realize it until I told him.  Success!

I am blogging the "recipe" so I can have a place to return to it (read: Pin it).  Just in case you thought this blog was dead.  ;-)

Mexican Rice Casserole - IP Style
Dawn E.

1 1/2 cups brown rice
4 Tbs butter
1 lb. ground beef
15 oz chicken stock (canned or homemade)
1 1/4  cups tomato salsa of your choice
2 Tbs onion flakes
1/2 - 1 Tbs chili powder
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp pepper
Shredded cheddar & sour cream

Set Instant Pot to Saute mode.  Melt butter; add rice and saute until toasted.  Remove and set aside.

Add ground beef and saute until browned and crumbly.

Add chicken stock, salsa, and spices (adjusting to your preference).  Add rice back in and stir well.

Lock on Instant Pot lid, making sure valve is set to pressurize.  Cook on Manual - High Pressure for 22 minutes.  Use Natural Release for 20 minutes.  Remove lid and stir well.

Dish up and top with shredded cheddar and sour cream!

Our favorite sides are sauted green beans seasoned with soy sauce, pepper, and sesame oil/seeds as well as tortilla chips.

....unfortunately, there were no leftovers.  ;-)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

*Brown Rice - 1.5 cups liquid and 1/4 tsp salt per 1 cup rice.  I made 2 cups for an Asian dinner and froze the leftovers in a muffin tin, 1/2 cup rice per muffin cup.  Boy it was sticky to accomplish!  Once frozen, dip the bottom of the pan in warm water and pop out the rice "muffins" to put in a freezer bag/container.  Perfect for quickly heating in the morning as a bed for a couple of fried eggs!  Great whole grain carb and excellent protein to start your day!  And perhaps one of the BEST food ideas I gained from a wonderful trip to Hawaii with my Hubz last December.  :-)

Mexican Rice Casserole ... Instant Pot version!

Having recently moved out of the States, I had to purchase several new appliances to meet different electricity such 'n such.  So instead of choosing a regular crock pot, I opted for the increasingly popular Instant Pot.  I've toyed with it a few times and not had anything turn out "off-ish" nor has it been too hard to learn.  That's a good thing!  One thing is for sure.  I have NEVER had such tasty and easy brown rice in my life!*  Which led me to try one of our family favorites, Spanish Rice Casserole.  Which we now have to call Mexican Rice Casserole thanks to mine and Hubz's trip to Spain last year where we learned real Spanish rice involves sea food and junk...I mean...stuff.  Mexican rice is the kind with the tomatoes and chili powder and such.  Or Rice 'a Roni style, if boxed is your thing.  But why?  It's so easy and much better for you to do homemade!

Four out of five people in my family are not too keen on brown rice.  I love the stuff!  It's so much better for you and has such a nice body and bite compared to plain ol' long grain white rice.  Well, guess what.  Making our Mexican Rice Casserole with brown rice in the Instant Pot went off smashingly!  EVERYONE loved it...even though it was brown rice.  Hubz didn't even realize it until I told him.  Success!

I am blogging the "recipe" so I can have a place to return to it (read: Pin it).  Just in case you thought this blog was dead.  ;-)

Mexican Rice Casserole - IP Style
Dawn E.

1 1/2 cups brown rice
4 Tbs butter
1 lb. ground beef
15 oz chicken stock (canned or homemade)
1 1/4  cups tomato salsa of your choice
2 Tbs onion flakes
1/2 - 1 Tbs chili powder
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp pepper
Shredded cheddar & sour cream

Set Instant Pot to Saute mode.  Melt butter; add rice and saute until toasted.  Remove and set aside.

Add ground beef and saute until browned and crumbly.

Add chicken stock, salsa, and spices (adjusting to your preference).  Add rice back in and stir well.

Lock on Instant Pot lid, making sure valve is set to pressurize.  Cook on Manual - High Pressure for 22 minutes.  Use Natural Release for 20 minutes.  Remove lid and stir well.

Dish up and top with shredded cheddar and sour cream!

Our favorite sides are sauted green beans seasoned with soy sauce, pepper, and sesame oil/seeds as well as tortilla chips.

....unfortunately, there were no leftovers.  ;-)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

*Brown Rice - 1.5 cups liquid and 1/4 tsp salt per 1 cup rice.  I made 2 cups for an Asian dinner and froze the leftovers in a muffin tin, 1/2 cup rice per muffin cup.  Boy it was sticky to accomplish!  Once frozen, dip the bottom of the pan in warm water and pop out the rice "muffins" to put in a freezer bag/container.  Perfect for quickly heating in the morning as a bed for a couple of fried eggs!  Great whole grain carb and excellent protein to start your day!  And perhaps one of the BEST food ideas I gained from a wonderful trip to Hawaii with my Hubz last December.  :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mojitolyte Drink

No.  I have not forgotten about this blog.  I think of things to post and even consult previous posts.  The to-do list is this blog's enemy.

But I had to post this...if only to get it out of my brain so I can come back to it again and again!

I have mild to moderate problems with salt cravings, migraines, low blood pressure, heart irregularities, and static shock.  Oddly, all of these are connected one way or another in Researchdom with electrolytes.  Such a journey to take care of our bodies and do battle with the effects of the Curse on them!

I've been experimenting with homemade sports drinks because my neurologist asked that I drink Gatorade to help with electrolytes and hydration.  Gatorade has sugar and dyes.  Homemade is ok in flavor, but hasn't been great enough to make me guzzle.  Until today.

With a pending migraine and realization that I've neglected water intake today, I thought I'd just make a last ditch effort at an electrolyte drink I would actually like before reaching for IbuCoffee (my drugs of choice for migraine).  I love the taste of mojito - lime and mint, sometimes with coconut.  So I threw it together.  And shocked myself when I reached the bottom of the glass so quickly!  I bet some would even enjoy it made with coconut water which would boost the electrolyte content.  Me?  I like the taste and price of water.....

MOJITOLYTE

12 oz glass
Half glass of ice
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp THM sweet blend (or sweeten however much with whatever you prefer)
4 shakes of salt
1 drop mint extract


Combine the above and fill glass the rest of the way with water.  Pop in a fun straw, stir, sip!  Repeat...?  :-D





TIP:  This changed my flavored water/micromuffin/oatmeal life.  Instead of opening your extract bottle all the way, poke a toothpick in the seal.  Now you can measure out one drop at a time into your water, micromuffin, oatmeal, what-have-you.  Just remember when you take the seal off after a while if you decide you need to measure large amounts more quickly.  I forgot I did that with my maple extract.  Yeah.  WAY maple-ized frosting.  Also, a near empty extract bottle.

I love my Oxo measuring cups and spoons.
But I sure wish they'd figure out how to make the labels stay on forever!






Monday, July 20, 2015

Superstition or Sovereignty?

It's been a good long while since a post has gone up on this blog.  We have good reasons.  Like having various roles in the end of the school/college year, an awesome wedding, and then a missions trip to Spain.  :-)  But today, something happened for me spiritually that I really want to write down to commemorate for myself but also to shed a teensy bit of light on just how wonderful our God really is, how He really is in the details and cares for us as we strive to live for Him.

For a couple of years, I seemed to have a weird knack for checking the time at 1:19.  It was not intentional.  It was annoying.  Why always 1:19?  Aside from the fact that it was so random to look at the clock at a consistent time, I was also annoyed that 1/19 is my birthday.  Two years I kept seeing the clock at 1:19!  It was one of those, "I don't believe in superstition, but come on!  What's the deal?"  I eventually started wondering if God was trying to either just amuse me or trying to tell me something.

Then my pastor started a sermon series (that no one knows how long it will take!) in James - one of my most favorite books of the Bible.  I've always known about the verse, "Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger."  Of course I've always known about it.  I have struggled with anger for a long time, in varying levels, as I journey through life as a wife and mother.  It's flat out silly how long I've known and convictingly-loved that verse........and never realized it is CHAPTER 1 VERSE 19.  As in 1:19.  As in 1/19.

BAM.  Ok, God.  That is really cool.  How wonderful that You would BURN that reference and verse into my head.  It worked!  I've never been great at remembering references.  I won't ever forget this one now.  Ever.

So about the time I connected those dots, I started looking at the clock less at 1:19 and more at 10:42, both morning and evening.  I was in disbelief.  It was like making that realization and having that reference in James tatooed on my brain meant that I no longer had to keep looking at the clock at 1:19.  And now it was time to move on to a different annoying time.  Because it happened SO often.  And because, well, I was born at 10:42 pm.  What.  on.  EARTH?

It's been almost a year I've looked at the clock at 10:42, and I've been wondering this whole year if God was preparing to emblazon yet another verse in my memory.  I wanted to wait and see if it would connect on its own.  To see if I would have another "Aha, God!" moment.  Well, when I saw 10:42 today, I decided the wait was over.  My middle son came in about that time, and I said we were going to go on an adventure through the Bible.

We sat there and looked at every book, from Genesis to Revelation, that has 10 chapters.  And each 10th chapter we checked for the 42nd verse.  There aren't many!  But there were two that made my jaw drop.  Just like the James 1:19 incident.

But before I share the first one, here is a Back Story:  For several years, I have been convicted about choosing selfishness above serving my kids.  Kids constantly ask for things - whether needs or wants.  There's a lot of  times I would LOVE to change my name to something other than Mommy.  Mommy, mommy, mommy!!!  It dives me nuts sometimes - because I'm selfish (and perhaps because they need a touch of training in that area).  So the Lord started bringing to mind that one verse (remember, I'm not good at references) about when He told His disciples that giving even a cup of cold water to a child can be done in His name and is an honorable thing.  He has helped me over the last few years to focus more on the fact that children are DEPENDENTS.  They truly need us moms to DO for them what they flat out can't do or can't do well for themselves.  They need us to DO for them so that they can LEARN for themselves.  And my reactive bad attitude to their questions and requests showed selfishness - focus on doing what I wanted, whether a necessary task or a total time waster, INSTEAD of just SERVING the very children God ENTRUSTED to me to raise, protect, train, help, shape, teach, and send off flying from my nest (rather than being dumped out only to hit the ground).  Just serve.  My thought process looks something like this...  "Your child is thirsty, Dawn.  Stop and give your child a cup of water!  You get thirsty, and you can easily get yourself a drink.  Love your child, and get him/her a cup of water."  I know.  It sounds terrible that I even have to think that way.  It sounds simple.  But mothering is hard.  Mothering through chronic health issues is hard.  Mothering while homeschooling is hard.  Mothering is hard when you are a Martha in charge of a household (we'll get to the Mary in a moment...).  It's easy to self-implode when things are tremendously busy, and you just wanna do what you wanna do...which is sometimes nothing.  But that's not a luxury - it's a temptation towards selfishness.  Sure, we need good rest and to take care of our bodies.  But you know the line I'm talking about when it crosses over into selfishness.  Ok, ok.  Enough back story.

So we were talking about how I can't seem to avoid seeing 10:42 on the clock.  Guess what I discovered is written in Matthew 10:42 today.  "And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."  NO WAY.  Reference forever remembered.  For an entire year, at the same time I kept looking at the clock at 10:42, God was also bringing to mind that verse as I struggled to grow in my mothering.  Unbelievable.  If you don't believe in a sovereign God, that is.  :-)

BUT.......there is another 10:42 I found.  I'm a Martha, as mentioned already.  I've known for years that I need to be more of a Mary, to be more disciplined in deep devotion and prayer.  Sitting at Jesus' feet drinking in all I can of who He is, what is in His Word, and communing with Him.  I get convicted EVERY time I hear a message on Martha and Mary.  Being a Mary is hard for me to do consistently and deeply all the time because my brain is the one that will get distracted by To Do's (or anything else for that matter), whether in thought or action.  Guess what Luke 10:42 is.  "but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." That's just awesome.  A third verse the Lord has been using for years to grow me that "just so happens" to be a reference with the same numbers of a time I kept seeing on the clock which "just so happens" to be the time of day I was born.

I don't believe in superstition.  I never have.  But I have ALWAYS believed in God's sovereignty, even over the tiny details of life (like what flower is on a particular table...just ask my hubby about that story!).  I truly believe it is no coincidence that these times are my birth day and time, that I couldn't seem to NOT see those times of day, and that the numbers matched up with references to verses that directly correlate to what God has been teaching me the last several years.  Such a precious, unexpected gift from Him.  He knows I have a bad memory, so He has compensated and given me a way to remember references AND lessons.  :-)

Now, if I start seeing a new time on the clock................Ha!

Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Get Your Kids to Hand Scrub the Tiled Floor

Yep!  You read it right.  I actually found a really "fun" and successful way to garner help for my kitchen floor.  It goes month(s?) without getting mopped because, well, it's hard work.  And it's one of the jobs that isn't the kindest on my back, even when using a mop.

Yesterday, I found my sweet daughter having a creativity/generosity explosion.  She was doing all sort of things (without asking).  When I found her with a washcloth, Christmas towel, and I-know-not-where-it-came-from bucket of water cleaning the glass doors of the entertainment center "for Daddy," I had an idea.  "Hey!  Sweetie!  I have an idea.  The perfect job for you.  Do you really want to clean something?"  ::winkie face to self::  "Follow Mommy...."  ::sly grin::

I set her up to scrub the kitchen floor.  She was in heaven!  But how was I going to make sure each tile got clean?  And I knew she wouldn't last long, so how would I know which ones had been done?

Beads.  What else?  It would only add to the colorful "fun" of scrubbing the kitchen floor.  And it definitely did.  I got down on the floor with her, and we worked together.  When my middle son found out what we were doing, it was all he could do to make himself sit and finish his schoolwork so he could then come clean the floor, too.  Score two for Mom!  :-D

I told EA that he would get $0.05 per tile he scrubbed.  I gave him blue and yellow beads to put down as he cleaned.  Since Eden and I had put down beads, he knew which ones were already clean and could simply go to town.  Using beads also allowed us to create a line of red beaded tiles so we could break halfway for lunch and more school (and once we had the red line, we picked up all the other beads so we wouldn't have to keep dancing across the floor then counted out his beads and added up his earnings...bonus: Math!).  Later, EA and I went back to work, knowing exactly where to start and finished that kitchen floor!  It was great fun to spend time with him and watch him have so much fun working AND earning money.  He's so proud of his $4.45, which I will HAPPILY give him for scrubbing my floor clean.  It looks and feels beautiful!  And I'm pretty sure he'll do it again because he knows that's it's a fast and easy way to earn money.  And he loves beads and water!  Win, win.  Done.


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Best Simple Hot Choclate

For a while, we've been making our own chocolate sauce for ice cream and hot chocolate.  Recently, however, I wanted to try a Food Network recipe for "The Best Hot Chocolate."  It was good - but it was quite rich!  So the second time I made it, I tweaked the recipe.  The kids and Hubby LOVED it!  I did, too, because it was smooth, mild, and perfectly chocolaty.  Try it!

3 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

Heat milk and half and half in saucepan (don't boil).  Combine cocoa and sugar in a small bowl.  Spoon out some hot milk and mix with the cocoa/sugar until it's a nice slurry.  Add this into the saucepan and stir well.  Continue to heat and stir about 2 minutes until everything is incorporated.  Add vanilla, if desired.  This makes 4 good cups of hot chocolate, 5 if you have slightly smaller servings which is what we do.

Don't forget the smosh-mallows!  My little Eme calls them that, and I refuse to correct her.  :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Asian Beef

This is a super easy, super delicious - loved by ALL - crock pot meal!  The ginger and soy sauce beef with delicious oven-roasted broccoli is a perfect combination!

1 sweet onion
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
pepper to taste
1 beef chuck roast
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water

1 can sliced water chestnuts (optional)
enough broccoli crowns to feed your family
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
enough rice to feed your family

Place roast in crock pot.  Wedge or slice onion and place on top of roast.  Grate ginger on top of roast (or use a few sprinkles of ground ginger).  Pepper to taste.  Combine soy sauce and water; pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low at least 6 hours.

30 minutes before dinner time, preheat oven to 400.  Start your rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, rinse and chop broccoli; place in baking dish.  Sprinkle water chestnuts throughout the dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt/pepper to taste.  Roast 10 minutes; stir.  Roast another 10 minutes or until it suits your fancy for doneness.  Your rice should be done about when your broccoli is - convenient!

NOTES:  The beef should shred easily simply by pinching with tongs or using a couple of forks to pull it apart.  Sometimes, if I haven't cooked it long enough or it was a not-so-great cut, it won't do that (always a bummer!).  Make it gluten-free simply by using gluten-free soy sauce.